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Current Communicative approaches

18 Task-Based Language Teaching

Strykeii S., and B. 'Leaver, 1993. Content-Based Jnstntction in Foreign Language , • Education, "Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Wcsche, M. 1993. Discipline-based approaches to Ianguage stud)-: Research issucs and outcomes. In M. Kruegcr and F. Ryan (eds.), Language and Content. Lexington, Mass.: D. C. H¿ath. 80-95. "Widdowson, H. 1978. Teaching Language as Cammunícation. Oxford: Oxford Umversity Press. "Widdowson, H. 1983. Learning Purpose and Learning Use. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wu, S.-M, 1996. Content-based ESL at high school level: A case study. Prospect

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11(1); 18-36.


Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT) refers to an approach based on the use of tasks as the core unir of planning and instruction in language teaching. Some of its proponents (e.g., Willis 1996) present it as a logical development of Communicative Language Teaching since it draws on several principies that formed part of the communicati ve language teaching movement from the 1980s. For example: - Activities that involve real communication are essential for language learning. " .. - Activities in which ianguage is used for carrying out meaningful tasks promote learning. - Language that is meariingful to the learner supports the learning piocess. Tasks are proposed as useful vehicles for applying diese principies. Two early applications of a task-based approach withiri a Communicative frarnework for la.nguage teaching were the Malaysian Communicational Syllabus (1975) and the Bangalore Project (Beretta and Davies 1985; Prabhu 1987; Beretta 1990) both of which were relatively short-lived. The role of tasks has received further support from some researchers in second language acquisition, who are interested in developing pedagogical applications of second language acquisition theory (e.g., Long and Crookes 1993). An interest in tasks as potential building blocks of second language instruction emerged when researchers turned to tasks as SLA research tools in the mid-1980s. -SLA research.has focused on the strategies and coghitive processes employed by second language learners. This research has suggested a reassessment of the role of formal grammar instruction in language teaching. There is no evidence, it is argued, that the type of grammar-focused teaching activities used in many Janguáge classrooms reflects the. cognitive learning processes employed ín naturalistic language Jearning situadons outside the classroom. Engaging learners in task work provides a better context for the activation' of learning processes than forin-focused activities, and henee ultimately provides better oppprtunitíes for language learning to take place. Language learning is believed to depend on irnmersíng students not merely in

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Richards, J., and Rodgers, T. (2001). Approaches and methods in language teaching. Cambridge: CUP


Task-Based Language Teaching Current communicative approeicbes "c'omprehensible input" but in tásks thát require them to negotiate mean-; íng and engage in naturalisric and meaningful communication. The key assumptioñs of task-based instruction are summarized by Feez • (1998: 17) as: ' „ . - The focus is on process rather than product. - Basic elements are purposeful activities and tasks that emphasize communication and meaning. - Learners learn language by interacting communicatively and pur-. posefuüy while engaged in the activities and tasks. - Activities and tasks can be either: those that learners might need to achieve in real life; tbose that have a pedagógica! purpose specific to the classroom, - Activities and tasks of a task-based syllabus are sequenced according to diffkulty, . • . - The difficulty of a task depends on a range of factors including the previous experience of the learner, the complexity of the task, the " language required to undertake the task, and the degree of support .1' available. Although advocates of TBLT have embraced the coneept of task with enthusiasm and convíction, the use of íasks as a unit in curriculum planning has a much oJder history in education. It first appeared in the vpcational training ptactices of the 1950s. Task focus here fírst derived from training design concerns of the military regarding new military technologies and occupational speciakies of the period. Task analysis initially focused on solo psychomotor tasks for which little communication or collaboration was involved. In task analysis, on-the-job, largely manual tasks were translated into training tasks. The process is outlined by Srnith:
The operational system is analyzed from the human factors point of view, and a míssion profíle or flow chart is prepared to provide a basís for dcveloping the task inventory. The task inventory (an outline of the tnajor duties in che job and the mote specific job tasks associated with each duty) is prepared, using appropriate methods of job analysis. Decísions are made regarding tasks to be taught and the level of proficiency to be artained by the students. A detailed task description is prepared for those tasks to be taught. Each task is broken down into the specific acts required for its performance. The specifíc acts, or task clementSj are reviewcd to identify the knowledge and skill components involved in task performance. Knally, a hierarchy of objectives is organized. (Smith 1971: 584) -

A similar process ís at the heart of the curriculum approach known as Competency-Based Language Teaching (see Chapter 13). Task-based training identified several-key áreas of concern. 1. 2. 3. 4. analysis of real-world task-use situations the translation of these into teaching tasks descríptions the detailed design of instructional tasks the sequencing of instructional tasks in classroom training/teaching

Because of its links to Communicative Language Teaching methodology ' and support from some prorninent SLA theorists, TBLT has gained considerable artention wíthin applied linguístics, though there have been few large-scale practical applications of it and litde documentation concerning its implications or effectiveness as a basis for syllabus design, materials developrnent, and classroom teaching. Task-Based Language Teaching proposes the notion of "task" as a central unit of planning and teaching. Although defínitions of task vary in TBLT, there is a commonsensical understanding that a task is an activity or goal that is carried out usíng language, such as fínding a solution to a puzzle, reading a map and giving directions, making a telephone cali, writing a letter, or reading a set of instructions and assembling a toy:
T a s k s . . . are activities which have meaning as their primary focus. Success in tasks ¡s evaluated in terms of achievement of an outcome, and tasks generally bear some resemblance to real-life language use. So task-based instruction takes a fairly strong view of cofflrnunicatíve language teaching. (Skehan 1996B: 20)

These same issues remain centra! in current discussions of task-based instruction in language teaching. Although task analysis and instructional design initially dealt with solo job performance on manual tasks, attention then turaed to team tasks, for which communication is required. Four rnajor categories of team performance function were recognized: 1. orientarían functions (processes for generatíng and distributing informatioh necessary to task accorriplishment to team members) 2. organizaíional functions (processes necessary for members to coordínate actions necessary for task performance) ' . '• 3. adaptation functions (processes occurring as team members adapt their performance to'each other to complete the task)

Nunan (1989:10) offers this jdefinition:
the communicative task [is] a piece-of classroom work which involves learners in connprehending, manipulating,;pfoducing or interacting in the target language whíle theír attentíon is principally focussd on meaning rather than form. The task should also have a sense of compieteness, beíng able to stand alone as a communicative act in its own right.


Task-Based Language Teachmg Current communicative 'approaches be more a matter of convenience than of ideology. For exarnple, structural criteria are employed by Skehan in díscussing the criteria for deterrnining the linguístic cornplexíry of tasks: Language is simply seen as less-to-more complex in fairiy traditíonal ways, since linguistk complexity is interpretable as constrained by structural syllabus considerations. (Skehan 1998: 99)

4. mbtivational toctíons (defining team' objectives and "energizing the prono" to complete thc task) • „ . - , . • „ , 100 ¿» (Nieva, Ftóshman, and Rieck [1978], ated in Crookes 1986}

Advocares of TBLT have máde similar attempts to define and valídatet the nature and functíon oí tasks in language ceachng. Although studÍK oí the S iust noted have íocused on the nature of occupational tasks, acaEc S have aiso been the focus of considerable attentiou in general edSon since the early 197Qs. Doyle noted that in ekmentary educado" "the academic task is the mecharan. through which the curriculum isenacted fot students" (Doyle 1983: leí). Academic tasks are defined as having four important dimensions: 1 the products stndents are asked to produce 2! the operations they are required to use in order to produce these 3, the cognitive operations required and the resources available ' 4*. the accountability system involved All of the questions (and many of the proposed answers) that were raised in these early investigations of tasks and their role ín trammg and eáchinS mirror similar discussions in relation to Task-Based Language Teaching. In this chapter, we will outline the critical issues in Task-Based Language Teaching and provide exampleí of what task-based teacmng IS supposed to look like.

Other researchers have proposed functional classifications of task types. For example, Berwicfc uses "task goals" as one of two-dístinctions in classification of task types. He notes that task goals are principally "educational goals which have olear didactic functíon" and "social (phatic) goals which require the use of language simply because of the activity in which the participants are engaged." (Berwick 1988, cited jn Sfcehan 1998: 101). Foster and Skehan (1996) propose a three-way functional distinction of tasks - personal, narrative, and decision-making tasks. These and other such classifications of task type borrow categories of language function frorn models proposed by Jakobson, ííalliday, Wilkins, and others. Finally, task classifications proposed by those corning from the SLA research tradition of interaction studies focus on interactionai dimensions of tasks. For example, Pica (1994) distinguishes between interactionai activity and communicative goal. TBI is therefore not ¡inked to a single model of language but.rather draws on ail three models of language theory. L E X I C A L UNITS ARE C E N T R A L IN L A N G U A G E OSE A N D LANGUAGE LEAHNING

Approach Theory of language
TBLT is motivated primarily by a theory of learning rather than a theory of language, However, several assumptions about the nature of language can be said to underlie current approaches to TBLT. These are: L A N G U A G E IS P R l M A R I L Y A M E A N S OF MAKIN.G M E A N I N G In common with other realiza tions of communicative language teaching, TBLT emphasizes the central role of meaning in language use. Skehan notes that in task-based instruction (TBI), "meaning is primary . the e assessment of the task is in terms of outcome" and that struction is «of "concerned with language display' (Skehan MÚLTIPLE MODELS OF LANGUAGE INFORM TBI Advócales of task-based instruction draw on structural, functional, and interactionai models of language, as defined in Chapter 1. This seems to

In recent years, vocabulary has been considered to play a more central role in second language learning than was traditionally assumed. Vocabulary is here used to include the consideration of lexical phrases, sentence sterns, prefabricated routines, and coUocacions, and not only words as significant units of linguistk lexical analysis and language pedagogy. Many task-based proposals incorpórate this perspective. Skehan, for ex-. ampie (1996b: 21-22), comments! Although niuch of language teaching has operated under the assumpcíon that Janguage is essenrially structural, with vocabulary eiements slotting ín to fill structural patterns, rnany linguists and psycholinguists have argued that native • language speech processing is very frequently lexical in nature. This means that speech processing js based dn the production and receptíon of whole phrase units larger thari the word (although analyzable by linguists ínto words) which do not require any interna! processing when th*y are 'reeled off' Fluency concerns the learner's capacity to produce language in real time without undue pausing for hesitación. It is likely to rely upon more lex•227



Tfisk-Based Language Teaching task is the pivot point for stimulation of input-autput practice, negotiation of meaning, and transactionally focused conversation. TASK ACTIVITY AND A C H I E V E M E N T ARE M O T I V A T I O N A L

Cumnt cotntnunicative approaches icalizcd modes of communication, as the pressures of real-time speech produe--, tioo met only by avoiding cxcessive rule-bascd cornputation.


Speaking and trying to communicate with others thiough the spoken language drawing on the learner's available linguistic and cornmunicative resources is considered the basis for second language acquisition in TBI; henee, the majority of tasks that are proposed within TBLT involve conversation. We will consider further the role of conversation later in this chapter.

Theory of ¡earning
TBI shares the general assumptíons about the nature of language learning underlying Communicative Language Teaching (see Chapter 14). Howcvcr some addition'al learning principies play a central role in TBLT theory. These are:

Tasks are also said to improve learner motivation and therefore promote learning. This is because they require the learners to use authentic íanguage, they have well-défined dimensions and closure, they are varied in format and operatíon, they typically ínclude physical activity, they involve partnership and collaboratíon, they may cali on the learner's past experience, and they tolérate and cncourage a variety of communication styles. One teacher trainee, commeriting on an experience involving listening tasks, noted that such tasks are "genuinely authentic, easy to understand because of natural repetition; students are motívated to listen because they have just done the saine task and want to compare how they 1 1 did it" (quoted in Willis 1996: 61-62). (Doubtless enthusiasts for pther teachíng methods could cite similar "evidence" for their effectiveness.) L E A R N I N G D I F F I C U L T Y CAN BE NEGOTIATED AND FINET U N E D F O R PARTICULAR P E D A C O G I C A L P U K P O S E S Another claim for tasks is "that specifíc tasks can be designed to facilítate the use and iearning of particular aspects of language. Long and Crookes (1991: 43) clairn that tasks
próvida a vehicle for the presentador! of appropriate target language samples

to learners - input which they will inevitably reshape via applicatíon of general cognitive processing capacities - and for the delivery of corhprehension and production opportunities of negotiablc difficulty.

In mpre detailed support of this claim, Skehan suggests that in selecting or desígning tasks there is a tráde-off between cognitive processing and focus on form. More difficult, cognitively demanding tasks reduce the arnount of attention the fearner can give to the formal features of messages, something that is thought to be necessary for accuracy and grammatical development. In other words if the task is too difficult, fluency may develop at the expense of accuracy. He suggests that tasks can be designed along a cline of difficulty so thac ¡earners can work on tasks that cnable them to develop both fluency and an awareness of language form (Skehan. 1998:97). He also proposes that tasks can be used to "channel" learners toward particular aspects of language: Such chafmeled use rrüght be tawards some aspect of the discourse, or accuracy, complcxity, fluency in general, or «ven occasionally, the use of particular sets of structures in the language. (Skehan 1998: 97-98)

Krashen has long insísted that comprehensible input is the one necessary {and sufficient) criterion for successful language acquisition (see Chapter 15). Others have argued, however, that productive output and not merely input is also critica! for adequate second language development. For cxample, in language ¡inmersión classrooms in Canadá, Swain (1985) showed that even after years of exposure to comprehensible input, the language ability of immersion students still laggcd behínd nativespeaking peers. She claimed that adequate opportunities for productive use of language are critica! for ful! language development. Tasks, it is said, providefull opportunides for both input and output requirements, which are believed to be key processes in language learning. Other researchers have looked at "negotiation of meaning" as the necessary element in second language acquisition. "It is rrieaning negotiation which focuses a learntr's attention on some part of an [the learner's) utterarice (pronunciaticm, grarnmar, lexicón, etc.) which requires modification. That is, negotiation can be viewed as the trigger íor acquisition" (Plough and Gass 1993: 36). Tasks are believed to foster processes of negotiation, modiíicatíon, rephrasing, and experimentadon that are at the heart of second language learning. This view is part of a more general'focus on the critica! importance of conversation in language acquisition ¡e.g., Sato 1988). Drawing on $LA research on negotiation and interaction, TBLT proposes that the

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Current communicatíve approaches Design -

Tosk-Based Language Teaching The syllabus specifies content and learning outcomes and is a document that can be used as a basis for classroom teaching and the design of teachíng materiaJs. Although proponents of TBLT do not preclude -an interest in learners' development of any of these categories, they are more concerned with the process dimensions of Jearning than with the specifíc content and skills that might be acquired through the use of these processes. A TBLT sylíabus, therefore, specifies the tasks that should be carried out by learners within a program, Nunan (1989) suggests that a syllabus might specify two types of tasks: 1. real-world tasks, which are designed to practice or rabearse those tasks that are found to be important in a needs analysis and tura out to be important and useful in the real world 2. pedagógica! tasks, which have a psycholinguistic basis in SLA theory and research but do not necessarily reflect real-world tasks Using the telephone would be an example oí the former, and an information-gap task would be an example of the latter. (It should be noted that a focus on Type 1 tasks, their identificarion through needs analysis, and the use of such information as the basis for the planning and delivery of teaching are identical with procedures used ín CompetcncyBased Instrucdon; see Chapter 13.) In the Bangalore Project (a task-based design for primary age learners of English), both types of tasks were used, as is seen from the following list of the first ten task types: Task type 1, Diagrams and fonnations 2. Drawing 3. Clqck faces 4, Monthly calendar 5. Maps 6, School timetables 7, Prograrns and itineraries Example Naming parts of a diagran) with nurnbers and letters of the alphabet as instructed.. • . Drawing geométrica! figures/ forniations from sets of verbal instructions. Positioning hands on a clock co show a given time Calculating duration in days and weeks in the context of travel, leave, and so on Cons'tructing a floor plan'of a house from a descriptíon . Constructing timetables for teachers of particular subjects • '• • • Constrnctíng itineraries frorn descrtptions of travel

Objeptíves . • There are few published ,{or perhaps, fully implemented) examples complete language prograrns that claim to be fully based on most rece|i¡ íbrrnulations of TBLT. The literatute contains mainly deseriptions.; examples of task-based activities. However, as with oiher communicati: approachcs, goals in TBLT are ideally to be determined by the spect£jj| needs of particular learners. Selection of tasks, according to Long a^4' Crookes (1993), should be based on a careful analysis of the real-worj needs of learners. An example of how this was done with a nationj English curriculum is the English Language Syllabus in Schools Malay] sian (1975) - a national, task-based communicative syllabus. Á ver" broad goal for English use was determined by the Ministry of Educad^! at a time when Malay was systematically replacing English-medium ¡n^, struction at all levéis of education. An attempt to define the role p| English, given the new role for national Malay language, led to the broa<j;fí| goal of giving all Malaysian secondary school leavers the abitity to conj-jf?| municate accurately and effeetiuely in the mosí common Eng¡isjj*3j$ language activities they may be invalved in, Following this broad statt^liSi ment, the syllabus development team.identified a variety of work situáis!! tíons in which English use was likely. The anticipated vocational (antfil occasionally recreational) uses of English for npntertiary-bound, uppéí'sfg secondary school leavers were stated as a list of general English use¡|!| objectives. The resulting twenty-four objectiyes then becarne the.framef^í work witriin which a variety of related activities were proposed. The:" components of these activities were defined in the syllabus under the.,; headings of Situation, Stimulus, Product, Tasks, and Cognitive Process3 An overview of The syllabus that resulted from this process is given in?5 Chapter 14. :5 The syllabus ' "••: The differences between a conventional language syllabus and a task-:; based one are discussed below. A conventional syllabus typicaliy specifies: the content of a course from among these categories: • '-': - language structures ^ " functions :-' - topics and themes - macro-skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) ; - competencies . ; - text types :'; - vocabulary targets :g
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Current communicative approacbes 8, Traintimetables : Selecting trains appropriate to given needs . . Working out year of birth from age 9. Age and year of birtb, Deciding on quantities to be bought 10, Money '• • given the money available (Adapted from Prabhu and cited in Nunan 1989:42-44) Noras, Brown, Hudson, and Yoshioka (1998) provide examples of representative real-world tasks grouped according to themes. For example: Tbeme: pknning a vacation

Task-Based Language Teaching

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

b) Skills, both macro-skills and subskills c) World knowledge or "tcpic'content" d) Text handling or conversation strategies Amount and type of help given Role of teachers and Iearners Time allowed " •' . Motivación Confidencc Learning styles

This list illustrates the difficulty of operationalizing the notioiti of task difficulty: One could add almost anything to it, such as time of day, room temperatura, or the aftereffects of brcakfast! • . . Types ofleamíng andteaching activitíes • \e have seen that there are many different

Tasks - decide where you can .go based on the "advantage miles" - booking a flíght - choosing a hotel ' . . - booking a room . . Theme: appiication to a university

- applying to the university - corresponding with the department chair - inquiring aboutfinancialsupport - selecting the courses you want and are eligible to take, using advice from your adviser - registering by phone - calculating and paying your fees

task. Consequently, there are many competing descriptions of basic task types in TBLT and of appropriate classroorn activities. Breen gives a very broad descriptkm of a.task (1987: 26):
A language learnmg task can be regardcd as a springboard for iearmng work. In a broad sense, it is a structured plan for the provisión of opportunitíes for the refinemem of knowíedge and capafailitíes entailed ¡n a new language and its use during comrnunication. Such a work plan will have its own particular objective, appropriate content which is to be worfced upon, and a working p.rocedure. ... A' simple and bricf excrcisc ¡s a task, and so also are more complex and comprehensive work plans which require spontaneous communicarion of meaning or the solving of problems in iearníng and communicating. Any language test can be included within this spectrum of tasks. All materials designed for language teaching - through their particular organization of content and the working procsdures they assume or propose for the learning of content - can be seen as compendia of tasfcs.

It ís hard to see that this classification offers much beyond the intuitive ¡mpressions of the writers of Situational Language Teaching materials of the 196Qs or the data-free taxonomies that are seen in Munby's Communicative Syllabus Design (1978). Ñor have subsequent atternpts at describing task dimensíons and task difficulty gone much beyond speculation (see Skehan 1998: 98-99), In addition to selecting tasks as the basís for a TBLT syllabus, the ordering of tasks also has to be decermined. We saw that the intrinsic difficulty of tasks has bcen proposed as a basis for the sequencing of tasks, but task difficulty is itself a concept that is not easy to determine. Honeyfield (1993: 129) offers the following considerations: 1. Procedures, or what the iearners have to do to derive output from input 2. Input text 3. Output required a) Language ítems: vocabulary, structures, discourse structures, processability, and so on

For Prabhu, a task is "an activity which requires Iearners to arrive át an outcorne from given information through some process of thought, and which allows teachers to control and regúlate that process" (Prabhu 1987:17). Reading train timetables and deciding which train. one shóuld _ take to get to a certain destinación on a given day ,is an appropriate classroom task according to this definition. Crookes defines a task as "a piece of work or an activity, usualiy with a specified objective, under-. • tak'en as part of an educatíonal course, at work, or used to elicit data for research" (Crookes 1986: 1). This definition would lead to a very different set of "tasfcs" from those idcntified by Prahbu, since it cáuld _ •' include not only summaries, essays, and class notes, but presumabty, iti


233 ' •

Task-Based Language Teaching Current cornmunicative approaches some language classrooms; drílls, dialogue readings; and any of the other "tasks" that teachers use to artain their teaching objectives. In the literature on TBLT, severa! attempts have been made to group tasks into categories, as a basis for task design and description. Willis (1996) proposes six task types biíilt'on more or less tradirional knowledgc hierarchies. She labels her task examples as follows:


4. single or múltiple outcomes: whether there is a single outcome or rnany different outcomes are possible 5. concrete or abstract language; whether the task involves the use of concrete language or abstract language 6. simple or complex processing: whether the task requires relatively simple or complex cognitive processing 7. simple pr complex language: whether the'linguistic demands of the task are relatively simple or complex 8. reality-based or not reality-based: whether the task mirrors a realworld activity or is a-pedagogical activity not found in the real world Leamer'roles

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

listing ordering and sorting comparing problern solving sharing personal experíences

6. creative tasks
Pica, Kanagy, and Falodun (1993) classify tasks accordíng to the type of interacrion that occurs in task accomplishment and give the following classificatkm:

A number of specific roles for learners are assumed in current proposals for TBL Some of these overlap with the general roles assumed for learners in Communicative Language Teaching while others are created by the' focus on task completion as a central learning activity. Primary roles that are implied by task work are:

Many tasks will be done in pairs or small groups. For students more accustorned to whole-class and/or individual work, chis may require some adaptation.

1. Jigsaw tasks: These involve iearners cornbining different pieces of information to form a whole (e.g., chrcc individuáis or groups rnay have three different parts of a story and have to piece the story together). 2. Informatíon-gap tasks; One student or group of students has one set of information and another student or group has a complementar" set of information. They rnust negotiate and find out what the other party's information is in order to complete an activity. 3. Probletn-solving tasks: Students are given a problem and a set of information, They must arrive at a solution to the problem. There is generaily a single resolution of the outcome. 4. Decision-making íasks: Students are given a problem for which there are a number of possibk outcomes and they must choose one through nego'tiation and discussion. í. Opinión exchange tasks: Learners engage in discussion and exchange of ideas. They do not need to reach agreement. Other characteristics of tasks have also been described, "such as the following: 1. one-way or two-way: whether the task ínvolves a one-way exchange of information or a two-way exchange 2. convergent or divergent: whether the students achieve a common goal or several different goals 3. collaborative or cornpetitive: whether the students collaborate to carry out a task or compete with each other on a task

In TBLT, tasks are not érhployed for their own sake but as a means of facilitating learning. Class actívities have to be designcd so that students have the opportunity to notice how language is used in communication. Learners themselves need to "attend" not only to the message in task • work, but also to the íbrm in which such messages typically come pacfced. A number of learner-initiated techniques to support learner reflection on task characteristics, including language' form, are proposed in Bell and Burnaby (1984).

Many tasks will requke leamers to créate and interpret messages for which they lack full linguistic resources and prior experience. In fact, this is said to be the point of such .tasks. Practice in restating, paraphrasing, using paralinguistíc signáis (where appropriate), and so on, will often ba needed. The skills of guessing from liaguistic and cpntextual clues, asking . for clarificación, and consuítirig with other learners may also need to be developed.




Current commumcative approaches

Task-Based Language Teaching

.Teacher roles


Additional roles are also assumed íor reachers in TBI, including:'

A central role of the teachet is in selectíng, adapting, and/or creating the tasks themselves and then forming these into an instructional sequence in keeping with learner needs, interests, and language skill level.

adapted for a variety of situations. A number of task collections have also been put into textbook form for students use. Sorne of these are in more or less traditional^ext format (e.g,, Think Tu/ice, Hover 1986), some are multimedia {e.g., Challenge*, Candlín and Edelhoff 1982), and some are published as task cards (e.g., Malaysian Upper Secondary Communicational Syllabus Resource Kit, 1979). A wide variety of realia can also be used as a resource for TBI.

Most TBLT proponents suggest thar learners should not go into new tasks "cojd" and that sorne sort of pretask preparation or cuing is important, Such activities might include topic introduction, clarífying task instructions, helping students learn or recail useful words and phrases to facilítate task accomplishment, and providing partía! demonstration of task procedures. 'Such cuing may be inductive and implicit or deductivo and explicit.

TBI proponents favor the use of authentíc tasks supported by authentic materials wherever possible. Popular media obviously provide rich resources for such materials. The following are some of the task types that can be built around such media products. News papers - Students examine a newspaper, determine its sections, and suggest three new sections that might go in the newspaper. - Students prepare a job-wanted ad using examples from the classifíed section. - Students prepare their weekend entertamment plan using the entertainment section, Televisión — Students take notes during the weather report and prepare a map with weather symbols showing ükély wcather for the predicted period. - In watching an infomercial, students identify and list "hype" words and then try to construct a parallel ad following the sequence of the hype words. - After watching an episode of an unknown soap opera, students list the characters (with known or made-up ñames) and their possible relationship to other characters in the episode.

Current visws of TBLT hold that if learners are to acquire language through participating in tasks they need to attend to or notice critical fea tures of the language they use and hear. This is referred to as "Focus on Form." TBLT proponents stress that this does not mean doing a grammar lesson before students take on a task. ít does mean cmploying a variety of form-focusing techniques, including artention-focusing pretask activities, text exploration, guided exposure to parallel tasks, and use o/highlighted material.

The role of Instructional materials

Instructional materials p!ay an important role in TBLT because ¡t is dependent on a.suffícient supply of appropriate ciassroom tasks, some of which may require considerable time, ingenuity, and resources to develop, Materials that can be exploired for instruction in TBLT are limited only by the imagination of the task designen Many contemporary language teaching texts cite a "task focus" or "task-based activities" among thcir credentials, though most of the tasks that appear in such books are familiar ciassroom activities for teachers who employ collaborative iearning, Cornmunicative Language Teaching, or small-group activities. Several teacher resource books are available that contain representative sets of satnple task activities {e.g., Willis 1996) that can be 236

Internet - Given a book title to be acquired, students conduct a comparative shopping analysis of three Interaet booksellers, listing prices, mailing times, and shipping charges, and choose a vendorj justifying their chpice. - Seeking to find an inexpensive hotel in Tokyo, students search with three different search engines (e.g., Yahoo, Netscape, Snap), comparing search times and analyzing the fkst ten hits to determine most useful search engine for their parpóse. - Students initiate.a "chat" in a chat room, índicating a current interest in their life and developing an answer to the first three people to respond. They then start a diary with these text-sets, ranking the responses. 237

Current communicative approaches

Task-Based Language Teaching

The way in which task acrivitics are designad into an instructional bloc can be seen from the following example from Richards (1985). The example comes from a language grogram that contained a core component buik «round tasks. The program was an intensive conversation course for Japancse college students studying on a summer program in the United States. Needs analysis identified target tasks the students needed to be able to carry out in EngÜsh, including:

Introduction to topic and task

- T helps Ss to understand the theme and objectives of the task, for example, brainstorming ideas with the class, using pictures, mime, or personal experience to introduce the topic. - Ss may do a pretask, for example, topíc-based odd-word-out games. - T may highlíght useful words and phrases, but would not preteach new structures. - Ss can be given preparationtime to think about how to do the task. - Ss can hear a recording of á 'parallel task being done (so long as this . does not give away the splution to the profalem). - If the task is based on a text, Ss read part of it. The task cycle Task - The task is done by Ss (in pairs or groups) and gives Ss a chance to use whatever language they already have to express themselves and say whatever they want to say. This may be in response to reading a text or hearing a recording. - T walks round and monitors, encouraging in a suppordve way everyone's attempts at communication in the target language. - T helps Ss to formúlate what they want to say, but will not intervene to correct errors of form. - The erhphasis is on spontaneous, exploratory talk and confídence fauilding, within the privacy of the smali group. - Success ín achieving the goals of the task helps Ss' rnotivation.
Planning .,


basic social sarvival transactións face-to-face informal conversations telephone conversations interviews on the campüs service encounters

A set of role-play activities was then developed focusing on situations students would encounter in the community and transacrions they wouid have to carry out in English. The following forrnat was developed for each role-play task: Pretask activitíes 1. Learners first take part in a preliminary actívity that introduces the topic, the situation, and the "script" that will subsequently appcar in the role-play task. Such acrivities are of various kinds, including brainstormíng, ranking exercises, and problern-solving tasks. The focus is on thinidng about a topic, generating vocabulary and related language, and developing expectations about tb,C .topic. This activity therefore prepares learners for the role-'play task by establíshing schemata of different kinds. 2. Learners then read a dialogue on a related topic. This serves both to model the kind of transaction the learner will have to perform in the role-play task and to provide examples of the kind of language that could be used to carry out such a transaction.
Task activity

3. Learners perform a role p!ay. Students work in pairs with a task and cues needed to negotiate the task. Posttask actívities 4. Learners then listen to recordings of native speakers performing the same role-play task they have just practiced and compare differences between the way they expressed particular functions and meanings and the way native speakers performed. Willis (1996: 56-57) recommends a similar sequence of acrivities: 238


- Planning prepares for the next stage, when Ss are asked to report briefly to the whole class how they did the task and what the outcome was. - Ss draft and rehearse what they .want to say or write, - T goes round to advise students pn language, suggésting phrases and helping Ss to polish and correct their language. - If the reports are ¡n writing, T .can encourage peer editing and use of dictionaries. - The emphasis is on clarity, organization, and accuracy, as appropriate for a public presentation. . - Individual students often take this chance to ask questions about specific language ítems. • Report - T asks some pairs to report briefly to che whole class so everyone can compare findings, or begín a survey. (NB: There must be a purpose for 239

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Task-Based Language Teaching Current cotnmunicátíve approaches . othérs to -listen.) Sometimes only one or rwo groups report in others comment and add extra points. The class may take notes. — T chairs, comments on the contení of ttieir reporta, rephrases but gives no overt public corrección. Posttask listening. ::;| - Ss listen to a recording of fluent speakers doing the same task, and":;, compare the ways in which they did the task themselves. The language focus • v:


long been parí of the mainstream repertoire of language teaching techniques for teachers of rnariy different methodological persuasions. TBLT, howev.fr, offers a different rationale for the use of tasks as well as different criteria for the design and use of tasfcs. It is the dependence on tasks as the primary source of pedagogical input in teaching and the absence oía systematicgrammaticalor other type of syllabus thatcharacterizes current versions of TBLT, and that distinguishes it from the use of tasks in Competency-Based Language Teaching, another task-based approach but one that is nót wedded to the theoretical framework and assumptíons of TBLT. Many aspects of TBLThave yet to be justified, such as proposed schemes for tasfc types, task sequencing, and evaluation of task performance. And the basic assumprion of Task-Based Language Teaching - that it provides for a more effective basis for teaching than other language teaching approaches - remains in the domain of ideojogy rather than fact.

Analysis ~ T sets some language-focüsed tasks, based on the texts students have.;. read or on the transcripta of the recordings they have heard. '•.', — Examples include the following: :;•' . Find words and phrases relaced to the title of the topic or text. : Rcad the transcript, find .words ending in s or 's, and say what the s means. • -• • Find all the verbs in the simple past form. Say which refer to past time and which do not. Underline and classify the questions in the transcript. - T starts Ss off, then Ss continué, often in pairs, - T goes round to help; Ss can ask individual questions. ,.-• In plenary, T then reviews the analysis, possibly writing relevant language up on the board in list form; Ss may make notes. Practice ~ T conducís practice acrivities as needed, based on the language analysis work already on the board, or using examples from the text or transcript. - Practice activities can include: choral repetition of the phrases identified and classified memory challenge garnes based on partially erased examples or using lists already on blackboard for progressive deletion sentence completion (set by one team for another) rnatching the past-tense verbs (jumbled) with the subject or objects they had in the text Kim's game (in teams) with new words and phrases dictionary reference words from text or transcript

BIbliography and further reading

Few would question the pedagogical valué of employing tasks as a vehicle for promoting communication and authentic language use in second language classrooms, and depending on one's definition of a task, tasks have

Bell,)., and B. Burnaby. 1984. A Handbook forESL Literacy. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Educación. Beretta, A. 1990. Implementation of the Bangalore Project. Applied Linguistícs 11(4): 321-337. Berecca, A., and A, Davies. 1985. Evaluation of the Bangalore Project. Bnglish Language Teaching Journal 30(2) 121-127. Breen, M. 1987. Learner contributions to task design. In C. Candlin and D. Murphy (eds.), Language Learning Tasks. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. 23-46. Brown, G., and G. Yule. 1983. Teaching the Spoken Language. Cambridge: Cambridge Universicy Press. Bygate, M. 1988. Units of oral expression and language learning in ¿malí group inteteactton. Applied Linguistics 9: 59-82. Bygate, M., P. Skehan, and M. Swa'm. (eds.) 2000. Task-Based Learning: Langaage Teaching, Learning, and Assessmgnt. Harlow, Essex: Pearson. Candlin, C. 1987. Towards task-based language learnmg. In C. Candlin and D. Murphy (eds.), Language Learning Tasks. Enjjlewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall. 5-21. Candlin, C., and C. Edelhoff. 1982. Challenges: A Multi-media Project for Leamers ofEnglish. Harlow, Essex:' Longman. Crookes, G. 19SS. Task Classificatian: A Crass-Dtsciplinary Review. Technical Report No. 4. Honolulú: Center for Second Language Classroom Research. •.Crookes, G., and S. Gass (eds.). 1993.Taifa in a Pedagogical Context, Clcvedon,- • Philadeíphia, and Adelaíde: Muktlingual Matters. Day, R. (ed.). 198é. Tatking to Learn. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. Doyle, W. 1983. Academic work. Review of Educacional Research 53(2): 159199. Ellis, R. 1992. Second Language Aequisition and Language Pedagogy. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.



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